Survivor Second Chance: Max Dawson Talks Shirin Oskooi

Max Dawson was a contestant on Survivor: Worlds Apart. Before he was even cast on the show, Max was fairly well known amongst the Survivor community as “the Survivor professor”, having taught a college course that used Survivor as its subject matter. A huge superfan, Max displayed his love and enthusiasm for the game early on in the season which made him a target for some of the other players, especially when he found friendship with fellow superfan Shirin Oskooi. Despite feeling comfortable with his position in the game, Max was voted out at the first post-tribe-switch Tribal Council – a blindside to not only him but his closest ally Shirin.

With his passion and knowledge for the game, Max can often be found sharing his opinions on Survivor via social media. He created a strong bond with Shirin during the time they spent together on the island, and the two remain close outside of the game. Inside Survivor reached out to Max to get his thoughts on Shirin’s second chance. Max Dawson talks Shirin Oskooi and her chances on Survivor: Cambodia.


“What was your overall perception of Shirin’s game on Survivor: Worlds Apart? Pros and Cons?”

Shirin’s game in Worlds Apart was unfairly overshadowed by her antics at camp and her struggles to fit in with people who saw her as different. Watching at home you saw Shirin shirtcock, howl about monkey sex, and whistle out of tune. Of course, you also saw her experience vicious bullying, and then you saw her stand up to one of her tormenters. What you didn’t see is that Shirin was a proficient social gamer and an excellent strategist. There were clues in the episodes if you were paying close attention. For example, by the time that Jenn was voted out of the game Shirin had so won her over that Jenn left most of her clothes with Shirin. That’s a testament to Shirin’s social game. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of that and a lot less of the bullying in Second Chance.

“How do you think Shirin will change her game on Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance?

Shirin doesn’t need to change her game. She needs to change her fellow castaways’ perceptions of her. She needs to prove to them right out of the gate that she is more than just an “annoying” victim who was bullied into a second chance. This perception of her is an unfortunate side effect of an edit and not an accurate reflection on her personality or gameplay. Unfortunately, as we all know, in Survivor perception is reality. If Shirin can change perceptions she won’t need to change that much else about her gameplay. In fact, I’d go so as far as to say that if Shirin were to repeat her Worlds Apart game but in a more hospital environment she could be very, very successful in Cambodia.

“Will mentioning that she made her first million at 25 during the Worlds Apart finale hurt her?”

Not at all. This isn’t 2003. And no one cares about that sort of shit on a returning player season anyway.

“Who on the Second Chance cast is Shirin’s biggest threat?”

Shirin’s biggest threats in this game will be the same people who threatened her in Worlds Apart: uptight wet blankets, male chauvinists and their female apologists, and strategy-averse alpha males who base their votes on performance in physical challenges.

“Who on the Second Chance cast do you see Shirin potentially aligning with?”

Two factors will motivate Shirin’s choices of allies: intelligence and security. She’ll be looking to play with people who can think at her level and who make her feel safe and accepted. I see many possible candidates who fit this bill: Fishbach, Savage, and Vytas immediately come to mind.

“What is the major thing Shirin needs to avoid this time around?”

Shirin craves the security of a tight alliance. Her game in Worlds Apart unravelled in large part because she felt too secure in our alliance. She and I felt so safe with one another that we stopped monitoring threats and started looking ahead to the next stage of the game. In the process, we neglected our next closest ally, who flipped on us at the first opportunity she had. Shirin needs to avoid conflating security with being safe in the game. She needs to be clear that finding a true ally and friend is not the same as having immunity. That said, I think she’s learned her lesson.

“What is Shirin’s secret weapon to win?”

It’s no secret that Shirin is one of – if not the most – intelligent players in this cast. It’s also no secret that she knows as much about Survivor history as anyone who’s ever played. In Worlds Apart we saw how her smarts and encyclopedic knowledge can alter game dynamics (e.g., during the auction). Her secret weapon this time around will be her charm. Shirin is a delightful person who is a blast to spend time with… provided you’re not a wet blanket.

“What kind of animal/player will Shirin be this time – Fox (cunning strategist), Bear (strong and loyal), Goat (no jury votes), Dead Fish (dragged to the end)?”

The black no-no. Shirin will play like the black no-no.


Martin is a 28-year-old writer from Hull, England represented by Berlin Associates. He graduated from the University of Hull in English and Creative Writing. But if you have found yourself on this website you probably know him better as “Redmond” – the Survivor spoiler.

  • Rob

    Shanini <3
    Great interview from Max, I'm so excited to see her play again!

  • Oscar Valdez

    I think it’s fair to assume that this is the BEST assessment anyone has ever given about a player for this Second Chance season. Max is an artist with words (y)

  • Skdnwkdna

    This was actually just as biased as Trish’s. While he did explain his thoughts far better and Trish, as well as having a few good points, he was very biased (the only difference being tgat he was extremely biased in favour of Shirin, while Trish was biased against Tasha).

  • Al Presser

    Hearing (I guess reading) what max says glad he didn’t make it back, he is arrogant and always over thinking this g and trying to sound like smartest man in room. Its obnoxious. I think k shiren will do well if she doesn’t end up bring a liability in challenged

  • Tom

    I am so sick of the WA players trying to throw in their little inside jokes with everything they do.

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